The Streamliner (Union Station, Los Angeles, CA)

As reported by Eater Los Angeles, the historic former Harvey House space in the city’s Union Station has been taken over by the Imperial Western Beer Company.  We haven’t been down there yet, but hopping on a train will eventually be a must. Why? Because part of the renovations include a newly built padded bar.

“The Streamliner” includes not only the lovely bar, but also a long, narrow seating area behind it that is obviously designed to evoke memories of a dining car. While it’s hard to tell from the pictures we’ve seen, it appears that one can’t actually sit at the bar, only ordering drinks there. That’s a pity, but it does accurately reflect the restricted space on a train.

photos below taken for Eater Los Angeles by Wonho Frank Lee

La Cave (Costa Mesa, CA)

We made it there at last! This basement hideaway is darker, by a lot, than our low-light camera’s photos make it seem.

Using the flash from a smartphone showed that despite all the red light, the padding for the bar is (still) black:

A stock photo from earlier days, featuring even more padding:

Courtesy Coffee Shop (Blythe, CA)

Despite a bit of unfortunate renovation (see below after our main pictures), the Courtesy Coffee Shop remains a time capsule that will make you feel you’re back in 1962 (when it originally opened).

We’d dreamed of getting there for a long time and were finally able to make a special trip to Blythe in order to check it out. (If this coffee shop were in Palm Springs, Los Angeles, or San Francisco it would probably be world-famous.)

The classical coffee shop out front is marvelous enough, but push open the tufted red door to go into the cocktail lounge — or “dining room” as they now prefer to call it — and you enter a wonderland. Apart from a couple of flat-screen TVs (which could easily be binned), there’s little to betray you’re in the 21st century.

A padded bar rail, knee padding, soft booths, martinis — the Courtesy Coffee Shop has it all. Good food, too. Our friendly bartender, A—-, had been working there for thirty years.

Until just a few years ago, the Courtesy Coffee Shop not only had several palm trees immediately in front of the building — now cut down — but also had palms growing through the roof.  You can still see proof on Google Street View.

Google Street View photos, 2015

Apart from that there was ’60s “pop” wallpaper and original door handles for the bathrooms, a “Cocktail Lunge” sign, plus carpet and red tablecloths in the dining room. Unfortunately, the bathrooms have been newly tiled, and these other details have gone.

Cocktail L unge (via Pinterest user Matthew Reader)

Women’s bathroom as it was (Yelp reviewers)

But, what’s management to do when idiotic Yelp reviewers ding classical architecture as “dated” and “dirty”? The owners deserve praise for keeping the business going and preserving it as well as they have.

Meantime, word is that the Courtesy Coffee Shop might be for sale again. If we could, we’d buy it!

The lounge before a flat-screen TV covered the wall

With some more digging, I found this postcard image of what the Courtesy Coffee Shop looked like when it first opened. And below that, a picture of the wallpaper that was in the men’s room.

La Simpatia (Guadalupe, CA)

This very special Mexican (or “Spanish,” as the vintage sign would have it) restaurant  has been in Guadalupe since 1944, but had to close down for a few years due to seismic retrofitting and rewiring. Much to our pleasant surprise, it re-opened at the end of 2015.

The Quiroga family has lovingly maintained the original menu and pretty much everything else about the place, including the diner-style counter,  the historic range, the napkin holders, and — best of all — “Pancho’s Hideaway” in back.

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No doubt, La Simpatia will again be popular as a location for filming movies and TV commercials, as it has in the past. Here’s a scene from the 2001 movie Cowboy Up with Molly Ringwald and Kiefer Sutherland sitting at the counter.

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